when i think of buddha the first thing what comes into my mind is LIGHT. i think this is a crucial element in representing something people regard holy. my next step was to investigate on materials which could possibly glow and bring in the element of light into my piece.
consequently my search was towards modern technologies that is El-wire. “Electroluminescent wire (often abbreviated to EL wire) is a thin copper wire coated in a phosphor which glows when an alternating current is applied to it. It can be used in a wide variety of applications- vehicle and/or structure decoration, safety and emergency lighting, toys, clothing etc – much as rope light or Christmas lights are often used. Unlike these types of strand lights, EL wire is not a series of points but produces a 360 degree unbroken line of visible light. Its thin diameter makes it flexible and ideal for use in a variety of applications such as clothing or costumes.” (excerpt taken from Wikipedia website)
that was excellent news and i even managed to get hold of some El-wire to do some test crocheting. here are some test results:
crocheting with el-wire wasn’t that difficult but i had a major concern about the amount of wire used in comparison to the size it produced. i did use up about 5 meters of wire and managed to make just a small mesh which led me to think that i will need lots of it to solve a buddha body in full size. my other concern was about bending it too much and if that will affect the flow of the current. to solve this issue i decided to ring up some people who worked for the company which sells this product. when i spoke to the advisor he told me that in project of such scale i will need lot of el-wire and the longest continuous thread one unit of batteries can power will be 40 m. i was looking at total of 200 -300m of el-wire which would have costed me around £2000. he was also suspicious about excessive bending and in places where they overlap each other there might be possibility of overheating. in total this project seemed too expensive and risky and because i didn’t have a massive financial back up it seemed very unrealistic.
i did some research online and i found amazing installation with el-wire:
to find more about this project click here. it looks stunning and is heavy budgeted project but at least it gave me the idea of a scale and effect el wire can produce if it is affordable.
in order to economise on amount of el-wire i could have opted for different approach and use a sort of the mesh underneath and wrap the glowing wire all around it. but that would result abandoning a crochet tecqnique which i wasnt too keen on. i wanted the statue to glow as well as make it in crochet technique so i decided to look for more options and keep the crochet as a main medium of making this piece.
in further researches i found another interesting installation which provided the efect i was looking for as well was executed in crafty style namely knitting technique:
in this piece two important aspects are combined – glow+craft. this is exactly what i am aiming at. i really loved the idea and i think creators have made absolutely breathtaking concept but because it is so original and specific i advisedly tried to avoid copying it. i had to come with my own original idea for my project so i kept on thinking and talking to some teachers from model making faculty.
one of the teachers gave me a stunning idea of using a glow in the dark paint and then think of some ways of creating a buddha statue and then paint it over. same as in last installation where glowing fluid is in liquid form, there are lots of products in market such as uv paints which can be applied on hard surfaces and when dried will emit the light under ultraviolet light. my main issue was now to think which material and how i can use to make the body.
main sapects are:
1) material which can be hardened or is hard enough to hold the shape
2) friendly to be covered with paint
first i was looking in different sort of threads and i went to b&q to investigate. i thought i might buy some thin electric wire and crochet using that and then paint it over. it would hold the shape good but when i tried to bed it they weren’t that flexible. i end up buying some sort of gardening rope which is made of hollow plastic tube, flexible enough but, again, it recquired huge amount to crochet and the shape wasnt that good and easy to control, here is a test shot:
i had to think of something else. i had an idea if there would be a chance to use a simple cotton or acrylic thread and crochet buddha body and then somehow make it harden to keep the shape. i went to the model making faculty again and proposed such idea and they said that it would be fairly possible if i would use a resin to harden the thread. immediately i was sent to the workshop and advised to seek help there. i found an amazing teacher who said that i will be able to use the facilities but it has to be sorted with the course leader first. apparently digital media is one of faculties which are not very popular in this workshop and because not many people use it we don’t pay any money towards the materials. most of the other courses do so they can go in and use the facilities any time. there wasn’t any issues with arranging the costs of the resin and when that was sorted i could start. in total it was estimated that i will need to use about 5 litres of resin. that costed around £30 pounds which was covered by digital media course.
i went to buy loads of threads.))
then i made few small test examples i wanted to test resin with:
when i brought these examples to the workshop my teacher said that this material might not soak up resin because it is synthetic. but we could always be sure only after testing it first. to both of our surprises it came out very well and it did soak up resin instantly. i also decided to use only white coloured thread because that would be easier to choose the main colour scheme without threat of original colour to shine through. here is the hardened shape of a small crocheted bag::
i was very pleased with outcome and absolutely amazed how resin maintained the true texture of the thread. even though it was plastic hard it remained very lifelike and delicate, as if nothing has been taken away, it was just superhard thread. here are some closeups to see the look of it::
i was ready to start with the main body. happy days!!!!